Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Councilwoman Nithya Raman, members of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners and LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer Martin Adams joined family members of the late former City Councilman Tom LaBonge on July 14 to dedicate the Tom LaBonge Headworks Water Complex. Under construction along the 134 Freeway near the northern entrance to Griffith Park, the new complex honors LaBonge, who died on Jan. 7.
On May 25, the LADWP Board of Commissioners approved the renaming of the facility in recognition of LaBonge, who was a longtime supporter of the department and its water system, infrastructure and reliability projects.
“Tom LaBonge felt that Griffith Park was L.A.’s crown jewel, and he brought an incredible amount of energy and passion toward preserving its beauty and well-being,” Garcetti said. “This may be the single best place in Los Angeles to cherish his legacy, and I can’t help but think that Tom would be proud of our efforts to turn this facility into a place that embodies the principles of sustainability and community that defined his public service.”
LaBonge began his public service career in 1978 on the staff of the late former Councilman and Council President John Ferraro. He later served as an aide to former Mayor Richard Riordan and as a council member representing the 4th District from 2001-15. LaBonge also worked for a short time as the LADWP’s director of community relations.
Known to many as “Mr. Los Angeles,” LaBonge left his mark at landmarks including Griffith Park, the Silver Lake Reservoir and LADWP’s Aqueduct Centennial Garden in Los Feliz. As part of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners vote in May, the garden was also renamed as the Tom LaBonge Aqueduct Centennial Garden.
“Tom LaBonge was passionate about LADWP’s history and this dedication rightfully recognizes his contributions to Los Angeles,” Board of Water and Power President Cynthia McClain-Hill said. “His legacy as a dedicated public servant and a cheerleader for the city and its departments will live on in stories that are shared and in the places throughout our city where he left his mark.”
“Seeing his name up there against the reservoir is extremely meaningful to us here at the department as he was so invested in many of the department’s projects and particularly, in this project at Headworks,” Adams added. “In many ways, Tom’s hard work, compassion, and dedication are emblematic of Angelenos. Naming this facility in his honor puts those values on display in a place that will become a future community gathering place.”
LaBonge was famous for saying throughout his tenure as council member that “water gives us life.” He was also known for another memorable phrase.
“Dad always said, ‘the two most important things in life are water and relationships.’ That is so true,” said LaBonge’s daughter Mary-Cate. “What I learned from dad is to talk to people, ask them questions. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and speak. Seeing how he made a difference and seeing his name up there is very special to me and my family.”
A banner signifying the name change was affixed against the wall of the Headworks West complex and will remain until permanent signage is installed once construction is completed. In 2015, LaBonge participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Headworks Reservoir Complex project. The two reservoirs – Headworks East and Headworks West – will replace the Silver Lake and Ivanhoe Reservoirs to comply with federal drinking water regulations. Headworks is located on a 43-acre site and public open space for recreation will be created atop the reservoirs.
For information, visit ladwpnews.com.
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